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Derby: 15,000 Sikhs ready to join in Vaisakhi parade

india Updated: Apr 09, 2014 13:40 IST

Around 15,000 Sikhs will take to the streets of Derby this Sunday to celebrate one of the biggest events in their religious calendar.

The annual Vaisakhi parade will see participation from all four gurdwaras here.

Sword bearers, stick fighters and traditional Punjabi music will accompany the parade as it makes its way through the streets of Normanton.

The procession starts at the Guru Arjan Dev Gurdwara temple, in Stanhope Street, at 2pm and will pass by the three other Sikh temples before returning to Stanhope Street.

Jaz Rai, a committee member at the Stanhope Street gurdwara, "This is one of the biggest events that we organise each year. But it always passes off without incident. It is great to have all the Sikhs in Derby together and it is always a fantastic celebration."

"For Sikhs, this is as big as Christmas for Christians and Eid for Muslims," he added.

Vaisakhi began in the Punjab region of India and commemorates the founding of the Sikh nation in 1699. It also marks the beginning of the Hindu solar new year.

Each April huge vibrant processions take place across the globe.

From a packed car park teeming with people and garlanded with fluttering flags, the procession will wind its way through Normanton, visiting the three other Sikh temples – in St James' Street, Brunswick Street and Princess Street – before ending up back at its starting point.

Derby is home to about 20,000 Sikhs, the majority of whom will be at the parade.

Jaz said: "I went to the Punjab in 1997 and it was incredible. The size of the crowds is just staggering and while it is smaller here it is still a fantastic sight."

"And it isn't just an event for Sikhs. We would love to see more people from all around the city come to it. It is as much an educative event as a religious event and we will be seeing school children coming into the temple as well," he added.